Syria sack Bernd Stange after Jordan defeat

Stange has been given his marching orders before the group stage is even over. (Reuters)
Updated 11 January 2019
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Syria sack Bernd Stange after Jordan defeat

  • Syria lost 2-0 to Jordan on Thursday having drawn with Palestine in their Group B opener.
  • German is the second coach to be axed at the Asian Cup before the end of the group stage.

LONDON: Bernd Stange has paid the price for Syria’s awful start to the Asian Cup with his job as the German was axed before the end of the group stage.
The Syrians went into the tournament strongly fancied to do well. They only narrowly missed out on qualification for last year’s World Cup — losing in the continental playoff to Australia — and had high hopes of success in the UAE.
But a drab and very underwhelming 0-0 against Palestine in their Group B opener and a shock 2-0 defeat at the hands of Jordan convinced the Syrian Football Association they had to take action before the last group clash against the Socceroos.
The Syrian FA issued a statement hours after the loss to their neighbors, stating Stange has been replaced by former coach Ayman Hakeem for the remainder of the tournament. However, in a later update, former head coach Fajr Ibrahim was announced as the replacement.
Hakeem will be tasked with picking up a win that could reignite the country’s AFC Asian Cup campaign.
“Coaches are always responsible for the performance of the team,” said Stange just hours before he was fired.
“We are one team and we win and we lose together.”
“There is not one person or a player who had a bad day. We win and we lose together and we have to lift up our team.
“We are disappointed extremely because we wanted to do something in this tournament, we wanted to go for the first time in history to the next round, Syria never achieved that and we need results and today was a disappointment.
“I will never ever blame one player or a group of players for something like this. Of course, the coach is responsible.”
The German is the second coach to be issued with his marching orders at the Asian Cup following Thailand’s decision to sack Milovan Rajevac following their 4-1 defeat to India.


Juan Antonio Pizzi tells Saudi Arabia to improve or forget about beating Japan

Updated 2 min 50 sec ago
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Juan Antonio Pizzi tells Saudi Arabia to improve or forget about beating Japan

LONDON: Juan Antonio Pizzi has told his Green Falcons they will have to learn the lessons of their defeat to Qatar if they are to have a chance of beating Japan in the second round.
Pizzi’s players went into the Group E clash already assured of a place in the knockout stages, having beaten North Korea and Lebanon in their first two marches. But the prospect of topping the pool and avoiding four-time champions Japan was still motivation enough to avoid temptation to treat the Qatar match as a dead rubber.
In a lackluster performance — a marked contrast to the energy and creativity of their first two matches — the Green Falcons failed to impose themselves in the game and paid the price when two Almoez Ali goals gave the win and points to Qatar.
That left Pizzi annoyed, warning his players they cannot afford to make the same mistakes against Japan.
“We tried to impose our style of play on Qatar, but our finishing and our ability to make the right decisions at crucial moments were not there tonight,” Pizzi said.
“We were good in the first 30 minutes, but an individual error for the first goal and then another mistake from a set-piece saw us concede twice.
“I am just starting to think of the game versus Japan. As I have stated before, I respect all of the teams that are here and do not feel either superior or inferior to anyone.
“It is now important for us to learn from the mistakes we made against Qatar and perform better when we play Japan.”
The first rule of any tournament is to get through to the knockout stages. That Saudi Arabia have managed that, having failed in the 2011 and 2015 editions, is a success. Add to that the fact they qualified for their first World Cup in 12 years last year, and it is clear that Pizzi’s team is still one on the up.
If there is a positive to take out of the Qatar defeat it is that the side’s first poor performance in the tournament came in a group match having already made it through, rather than in a winner-takes-all encounter such as the one they face against the Blue Samurai in Sharjah on Monday.
“We will bounce back. I don’t feel that we are not as good as (Japan) in any way,” Pizzi said.